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I inspected another crappy sump pump install the other day. I am curious as to several things I haven't looked up yet. I am not being lazy, but need info. ASAP.

The installation: A bucket with some holes drilled in it was placed in the center of the crawlspace. A new receptacle (no GFCI protection) was installed for this sump pump. The sump pump lacked any float or visible switch, and was running continuously (dry in that area). The drain hose was a cut section of garden hose. The end of the drain pipe was run to the low point drain and was just pushed in through the check valve/ flapper.

My concerns: The low point drain (funny name for something that is hardly ever at a low point) was high and dry. There was evidence of recent standing water throughout most of the crawlspace (75%+). The sump was just placed near the middle of the crawlspace. There was no trenching work done. There was standing water throughout about 30% of the crawlspace-- probably about 3" deep The standing water was nowhere near the low point drain or sump. (sump was just installed prior to my inspection after a sale fail). The home's lot was reverse graded-- everything sloped right to the foundation.

I have never seen a sump pump such as this one with no visible switch-- do they make pumps with internal switches that sense moisture and turn on when working properly?

Shouldn't a sump pump be a last ditch effort (high water table) when water can't be kept out of a crawlspace to begin with?

Shouldn't trenching in a mostly flat crawlspace be pretty much a requirement?

Isn't running a drain line through the check valve/ flapper of a low point drain an improper installation seeing as how water can now drain back into the crawlspace?

Wouldn't permits have been required for the pump installation?

Are there any minimum standards (code, etc.) that a drainage contractor must comply with, or can they just do whatever they want with the installation of a sump pump/ drainage system?

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Are there any minimum standards (code, etc.) that a drainage contractor must comply with, or can they just do whatever they want with the installation of a sump pump/ drainage system?

You think this was a professional install? Sounds more like a DIY job. Did there happen to be a fountain or a pond with a waterfall outside missing a pump?

Many of your questions seem a little rhetorical. [;)]

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Hi Richard,

I know the dude who did the work was a contractor, and he was paid to do the job-- I guess that makes him a professional.

The reason I posted this question is that I am getting calls from both Realtors and the contractor asking me to clarify exactly what is wrong, and they want to know what needs to be done to "pass" the dang thing.

I won't call them back until I am done researching everything.

Oh yeah, this is a bank owned house. I am surprised that they actually did some work to it (just this). I would not be at all surprised if they told the contractor to do the cheapest band aid possible.

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Bad use of the word "professional"!

To answer one of your questions, there are diaphragm switched sump pumps with no obvious float. See..

http://www.ridgid.com/Tools/SP330D-Sumpe-Pump &

http://www.sump-pump-info.com/float-switches.html

Can't say I've ever seen one. You say yours was running continuously but dry. I'm surprised it hasn't burnt out yet...but it will.

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Well, it looks like OR does not require GFCI protection for a "dedicated" circuit for a sump pump after all. Our electrical code is based off of the NEC of course, with amendments. I pulled this: (B) "Exception No. 2 to (2): Receptacle ground fault protection shall not be required for a dedicated branch circuit serving a single receptacle for sewage or sump pumps." off of this site: http://arcweb.sos.state.or.us/rules/OAR ... 8_305.html

From what I understand of the wording, GFCI protection is only not required if on a dedicated sump circuit. Seeing as how the contractor wired the receptacle in himself, and I do not remember seeing a dedicated circuit, GFCI protection would be required. I do not believe that the sump circuit is required to be dedicated-- anybody??

Seeing as how the contractor probably just tapped into an existing circuit (I know he is not allowed to do electrical work-- that's another matter), GFCI protection would be required..... Someone please correct me if I am wrong.

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Maybe it's just me, but I don't see where you have any obligation to troubleshoot/redesign a wet crawl space. A (seriously) wet crawl space is a problem. That's pretty much common knowledge. Why not just tell the "stakeholders" that it's wet, problems include but aren't limited to (ABCXYZ), and somebody needs to hire somebody to figure out the mess and fix it.

As I've said before, how-to instructions are valuable. Writing up a pro-quality game plan for the "stakeholders" isn't HI work; it's a whole different profession, with peer review, editors and other backups (like the publisher's insurance). I've written such game plans. Back in the day, they sold for about a buck a word.

One of my favorite phrases: "All I can do is tell you it's screwed and it needs fixing."

BTW, as soon as you start offering design solutions, you're pretty much exposed to the wrath of any puddinhead in the mood to sue somebody. Let 'em sue the guy who screwed it up in the first place.

WJ:

I hammered this house on drainage issues. I wrote in the report that I believed that the sump was just a band- aid, and that exterior drainage work should be done. I recommended that they hire a drainage expert to design a permanent solution to keep water out of the crawlspace to begin with. I told my client that the sump pump should never be needed unless there are water table issues, which I do not believe to be the case (wrote this in the report as well). The frustrating part is that I am now being hired to re- inspect the "band- aid"---- kind of like that roof a few weeks ago.

I know that I can be held liable if I start to "design" repairs. I do my best to not do so.

I just called the contractor back. He told me that he did the electrical work himself , and that no permits were pulled. When he asked me what needed to be done to "pass" the inspection, I let him know that my re- inspection report was going to state that X work was done without permits, and that he likely violated the law by performing electrical work. I told him what I usually see on a sump type system, but that I do not design repairs. On the re- inspection, I will just write down what I see. If it's dry, I'll say it needs to be watched. If it's wet...........

I will also refer to my original report that recommends further measures be taken to keep water out of the crawlspace.

I'd like to write something like this: Good job in fixing the band aid. Now hire a true drainage expert to actually fix the mess.

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One of the first things people ask when I tell them a crawlspace is too damp is, "Should we install a sump pump?"

But it's a complete waste of time and effort just to dig a pit and plop down the pump, unless the entire crawlspace floor is pitched toward the sump pump. And, of course, it never is.

Waterproofing a crawlspace is pretty similar to how B-Dry waterproofs a basement. Around here, the cost is typically 2K-4K. And the work comes with a guarantee.

Everything Walter said is true, but in real time it doesn't always work. You--or I suppose I should say I--can't tell every buckethead he's a buckethead and shouldn't have been involved in the job in the first place.

The flip side, like Walter said, is you don't want to prescribe the exact repair 'cause that's not your job, and you also don't want to waste unpaid time having a conversation with someone who's clueless.

Right or wrong, I would voice my concerns to my client, but when the realtor and contractor entered the equation, I'd recommend they contact a professional waterproofing company--that offers warranties with its work--and let them offer advice on how best to proceed.

Doesn't always work, naturally, so sometimes you have to call an audible.

This is actually one of the more delicate aspects of our jobs. Last summer, I trashed a house that an attorney was buying. The realtor had her pet contractor ring me up to ask what had to be done to satisfy me. I politely explained that I didn't prescribe corrections over the phone, and that if he wasn't aware of the codes and the proper repair methods, he probably wasn't the best person for the job. He turned sullen and rude, and a few minutes later, hung up on me.

The attorney called back an hour later, wanting to know why I wasn't amenable to helping out the contractor, 'cause the seller was wanting to make certain all the repairs were effected correctly. I explained things that everyone here understands, but the guy didn't get it. He kept saying, "How can you tell them it's wrong if you won't tell them how to fix it?" I tried to explain further and also mentioned that it would require a couple of hours of my time and the realtor's contractor would still likely botch everything, but the attorney became increasingly upset, and still probably thinks I'm a big fat schmuck.

So Brandon, I empathize, 'cause I realize it's not always an easy call.

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To answer one of your questions, there are diaphragm switched sump pumps with no obvious float. See..

http://www.ridgid.com/Tools/SP...mpe-Pump &

http://www.sump-pump-info.com/...hes.html

Thanks Richard-- it looked nothing like those, but it just donned on me that I took pictures.......

Here's the pump's installation instructions[:-slaphap: http://www.waterace.com/pdf/R6S%20Utili ... Manual.pdf

It flat out says that it's not to be used for permanent installations...

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I was gonna ask what kind of idiot connects a garden hose to a sump pump, but that's what the instructions say to do. Fascinating.

As you noted, what would the contractor say about this?

"The utility pump is engineered for water removal in temporary applications. The utility pump is not to be used for continuous

duty or permanent installations."

Or this?

"The R6S is designed for residential clean water

“spotâ€

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I was gonna ask what kind of idiot connects a garden hose to a sump pump, but that's what the instructions say to do. Fascinating.

As you noted, what would the contractor say about this?

"The utility pump is engineered for water removal in temporary applications. The utility pump is not to be used for continuous

duty or permanent installations."

The contractor told me that he has installed close to a hundred of these things this way, without a problem. That's downright impressive (that he hasn't had problems that is)

The buyer's agent told me that this was a thousand dollar installation, and that the contractor guaranteed his work. I'm in the wrong line of work if a contractor is making a grand installing a receptacle, a bucket, and a temporary pump with a garden hose attached.

Shoot, I could have actually fixed this problem for a grand.

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The reason I posted this question is that I am getting calls from both Realtors and the contractor asking me to clarify exactly what is wrong, and they want to know what needs to be done to "pass" the dang thing.

I won't call them back until I am done researching everything.

I wouldn't waste any time explaining anything to this contractor or realty agent. I would simply tell them that an idiot that would "install" a pump, used for removing water off my pool cover every spring, for correcting a nasty wet crawlspace won't comprehend much of anything. Get someone with the experience and knowledge to fix it right.
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Get someone with the experience and knowledge to fix it right.

If it were only so easy........

The problem is that the contractor has already been paid for his work, now he is back pedalling and trying to fix things. I've never seen a contractor give a refund.

The value of this installation as I see it:

Illegal electrical work (not a licensed electrician): less than $0.00

A plastic bucket with holes: $5.00

A useless temp. pump: $0.00

Garden hose attached to useless pump: $0.00

My Re- inspection fee: -$100.00.

Total: -95.00

It looks like the contractor ends up owing the client money on this one. Maybe we should get a new drainage expert out there after all.

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Hi,

I agree with what you've said; this issue originates outside of the crawlspace - either it's bad grading or downspouts emptying too close to the home or a broken downspout receiver, so that's where they need to concentrate their efforts and the pump should be the last line of defense.

Since the "contractor" is being so accommodating, I suggest that you tell him that if he wants to someday grow up to be an honest-to-goodness competent person he should at least be able to do work that's equal to or better than a do-it-yourselfer's; and then you direct him to the ultimate do-it-yourselfer site - Popular Mechanics - to see how a proper do-it-yourselfer sump pump installation would look. This one is for a pump installed through a concrete floor but that's the only difference; all he'll need to do is sink it deeper in the mud because there's no concrete floor involved.

Show the homeowner this article and then show the homeowner the pictures of the rowboat sump arrangement he's got.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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A temporary pump with no water sensor - Oh My! That's a jack-leg, screwed-up installation created by someone who doesn't understand how to tackle the problem. The simple fact that the crawl still has standing water should be proof to any 5th grader that the system is not doing its job.

There's no trying to save this installation. They need to hire a contractor who actually knows what he's doing to start over from scratch.

Brandon, sometimes it's easy to get sucked into the middle of other people's problems, but there's no good in it for you. Don't let your business practices be dictated by others. As Walter says: all risk, no reward.

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Well, it looks like OR does not require GFCI protection for a "dedicated" circuit for a sump pump after all. Our electrical code is based off of the NEC of course, with amendments. I pulled this: (B) "Exception No. 2 to (2): Receptacle ground fault protection shall not be required for a dedicated branch circuit serving a single receptacle for sewage or sump pumps." off of this site: http://arcweb.sos.state.or.us/rules/OAR ... 8_305.html

From what I understand of the wording, GFCI protection is only not required if on a dedicated sump circuit. Seeing as how the contractor wired the receptacle in himself, and I do not remember seeing a dedicated circuit, GFCI protection would be required. I do not believe that the sump circuit is required to be dedicated-- anybody??

The key phrases are "dedicated circuit" and "single receptacle" (not duplex). Either it has to be GFCI protected or it has to be a dedicated circuit with a single receptacle, not a duplex.

Seeing as how the contractor probably just tapped into an existing circuit (I know he is not allowed to do electrical work-- that's another matter), GFCI protection would be required..... Someone please correct me if I am wrong.

You're right.

Wet crawlspaces in our area are very common and almost never get corrected properly. I'm only aware of two companies that consistently get it right, John's Waterproofing and Ability Plus. I generally tell people that if they hire anyone else, they might as well just toss their money into the nearest paper shredder.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Thanks to all of you who have responded. It sounds like we are all on the same page, which is nice to see.

I sure wish there was someone that would jump on here that had exact code requirements (bare min.) for these installations in OR, but I don't believe that there is much to cover that. From what I have read in our plumbing code, I believe that a 1.5" drain line is required, along with a check valve, but this may be stretching the intent of the code. The electrical code covers the receptacle installation quite nicely. There is a big gap in the code that does not cover any type of repair work. As I told the Realtor who asked me to contact the contractor : "if the building code was followed to begin with, we wouldn't be dealing with a sump pump/ drainage issue right now" (house is only about 4 years old)

I spent hours searching for sump pump installation requirements today, only to find out that there is not much info. out there.

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Brandon-

It all boils down to this:

- You identified a problem.

- You did (or at least should have, and I assume you did) recommend that a qualified drainage contractor be consulted to evaluate/recommend corrections/perform corrections as he deemed appropriate while warranting his work to the buyer.

At this point, like the Lone Ranger, your work here is done, and you can ride off into the sunset.

If you choose to be further involved in the process ( can you say re-inspection?) you may become helplessly sucked into the seller/contractor/buyer/Realtor tar baby. Sometimes we do it as a service to our customers. When we do, sometimes is costs us time and frustrations we should not have to endure. Your level of involvement is, however, your choice. I know, I've been there countless times. Often I provide a level of service above and beyond the call, but not always. As they say, there are none so blind as he who will not see. You can spend a lot of time trying to lead blind men to the light.

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Hi The Other Dave,

The buyer's agent called me today--- they want me to re- inspect the contractors work tomorrow morning. I already told everyone involved that this was a band aid only, and more work was needed.

As usual, I am to go back out there in order to make sure he properly installed the sump pump this time. I have been told that he still did not pull any permits[:-bigmout, but that he put a sump pump in that will actually shut off. He supposedly graded the soil toward the sump this time.

I let the agent know that there would be no way for me to tell if it was properly graded. I let her know that this was a band aid (again), and that they were wasting their money paying for me to go back out there. I told her to have the client put money toward true repairs to the property.

That argument failed. The agent let me know that she was going to be the one stuck paying for the re- inspection, and asked me to knock the re- inspection fee in half. I'm sure my answer didn't make her too happy.

I sure hope it rains cats and dogs all night.........

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...

As usual, I am to go back out there in order to make sure he properly installed the sump pump this time.

...and despite you telling all concerned that that is ALL you are really going to re-inspect, and despite you telling all concerned that the underlying issue still hasn't been properly assessed or addressed by the qualified professionas or trades, you know who is going to get blamed when the crawl floods again or a related foundation problem occurs, don't you?

On a scale of 1 -10 of items I'd be willing to re-inspect, and with 10 being "I don't want to go there", flooded crawls would come in somewhere around 15!

Maybe I'm being a little cynical here, but it seems that the agent might not have the clients best interest in mind and just wants you to say enough nice things so the deal goes through. I guess I'd call your clients, the buyers, and explain once again what they actually need. I see no obligation to bless anything for the agent. I don't think the fee, half or full, is worth the hassle.

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Hi Richard,

I agree.

I will not be blessing the "repair", and will write that in the re- inspection report. I will basically let them know whether or not the pump appears to be properly installed. I will also tell them they still need fix the underlying problem, so that water never makes it into the crawlspace to begin with.

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Brandon-

It's worth mentioning that here in Oregon when repairs are made by a contractor to facilitate a real estate transaction the contractor's automatic one year obligation to his customer through the Construction Contractors Board applies to the buyer. I have often found that when I point out to an unqualified contractor that he is warranting his work to be satisfactory to the buyer that he suddenly decides he doesn't want the job or the liability. I further explain when asked by that contractor to engineer the project that I do not provide supervisory services. Don't let yourself be sucked into telling him how to do his job, it's a no win situation for you. I make it clear that he is responsible for evaluating the problem, devising a fix and accomplishing that fix. If he is not comfortable with that he should not be doing the job. I also explain the contractor's responsibility to my clients and their agents. This often has the effect of the buyer and his agent insisting that a qualified specialist be hired to do the required work. When they fail to heed my advice, at least they can't blame me for the unsatisfactory work down the road when the fix fails.

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